Seagalmania: Killing Salazar (2016)



Steven Seagal once again teams with director Keoni Waxman for Killing Salazar, his fourth film of 2016. Those scoring at home know that the Waxman and Seagal tandem has been responsible for such pictures as Absolution, Maximum Conviction and Force of Execution. The filmmaker wrote the screenplay along with Seagal stalwart Richard Beattie.

It is long past tedious to discuss the goateed Seagal’s direct-to-video releases as scraping the bottom of the barrel. His 2016 outings, like The Asian Connection or Sniper: Special Ops or that other one, aren’t good movies in any traditional sense. But they should be viewed through a certain yellow lens, much like the sunglasses the star has been sporting in this stage of his storied career.

In Killing Salazar, Seagal is John Harrison. He is interviewing federal agent Tom Jensen (Luke Goss) about an operation gone wrong, which gives the flick the opportunity to tell its story in flashback. It turns out that Jensen was part of the team responsible for bringing in drug kingpin Salazar (Florin Piersic Jr.), who has flipped and is set to become an informant for the DEA.

Unfortunately, the operation is fishy from the outset. Not only does Salazar’s former enforcer Bruno (Georges St-Pierre) get involved, there’s some internal wrangling that suggests corruption. Jensen and his team handle an attack on a Romanian hotel, but it turns out the biggest threat may come from within. Or something.

Like many of Seagal’s recent efforts, Killing Salazar has a nose for the procedural that comes off as showy. It’s clear that the star likes to illustrate just how familiar he is with the process of how things operate on a federal agency scale, so that leads to a pile of “inside baseball” exposition.

Seagal continues the current theme of playing a mythological figure that doesn’t have to do a whole lot of heavy-lifting. His Harrison is the sort of man people call when “shit goes sideways” and he knows everything about everyone. To his credit, Seagal actually moves around and gets in a few fights.

Said fights require considerable suspension of disbelief, especially as he tangles with (and easily defeats) St-Pierre. The three-time former Welterweight Champion of the UFC is a daunting presence when he takes on other fighters in Killing Salazar, even if his acting competence is on the thin side.

But Goss is really the star of the show and he’s got the edge to make it work, even if he is playing a walking cliché. His fighting skills are above par and he’s able to play the bad ass protagonist, with a motorcycle and tattoos and all that good stuff. Goss also knows how to get out of Seagal’s way, which gives a certain sting to the deposition segments.

The rest of the cast is balanced out with bit players and models, like Martine Argent and Adina Galupa. There’s also a rather, uh, gifted woman sitting next to Seagal for a portion of the deposition whose job it is to give the audience something else to look at while the goatee is talking.

Killing Salazar is a fairly decent Seagal picture and it is every bit as consistent as The Asian Connection. It’s neat to see St-Pierre do the job and there’s enough practical bulk to give the central operation a semi-legitimate feel. And Seagal, replete with tinted vision and profane swagger, once again proves his worth in less noteworthy conditions.

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